Monday, August 13, 2007

Scripture & CLT

Prof. Rob Vischer has been hanging with the evangelicals and wonders aloud why Catholic Legal Theory does so little to incorporate Scripture. I wonder in response, why should it? CLT is not a theological discipline but a rarefied hybrid field that works off the distillation of Catholic teaching and practice. To expect Scripture to provide direct guidance or insight into specific aspects of secular law is to demand too much and too little of it -- too much in that Scripture is not primarily a rulebook or answer key to legal/political problems; too little in that Scripture is diminished when it's mined for anything but liturgical formation.

Along with all the apostolic churches, Catholicism requires that Scripture be read and interpreted liturgically. Only out of the Liturgy, that is, prayer of one mind with the Tradition, can the Bible be understood properly. Moral and legal insights can only be gleaned from Scripture through Liturgy. It makes sense that evangelicals, in mostly ignoring this critical principle, would misuse Scripture by presuming it has some direct, practical "application" to the law, which just opens the door to all sorts of ideological invasions and proof-texting flights of fancy.

Tridentine Vernacular

Ad Orientem has posted an excerpt from Fr. Stanley Harakas on the confusion in both Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox churches over the ancient liturgical tongues.
But there is a rub in all this for the Orthodox. Though we use many different languages in our worship, Greek, Slavonic, Arabic, Romanian and other traditional languages, for many Orthodox these function just like Latin does for the Roman Catholics. It is the language, precisely because it is not understood, because it is exotic, and because of the lack of understanding, that carries for many people the sense of the holy, and not what actually is said and done in worship! Language becomes a barrier to true worship, that is, worship that invites the Orthodox Christian to say with St. Paul "I will pray with the spirit and I will pray with the mind also."
I still have yet to hear a traditionalist Catholic explain why V2 couldn't have simply vernacularized the Tridentine Mass. It eludes me how a Tridentine Mass in Douay-Rheims English could possibly be inferior in any way to the stripped-down Pauline Mass. I would disagree with Harakas's suggestion that the old, non-vernacular liturgical tongue possesses no spiritual value for the synaxis, but I would agree that too many traditionalists in the apostolic churches make a fetish out of the ancient languages. The real issue is whether the language we use in our liturgy connects and binds us to the fullness of the Faith in unity, and Latin achieves this probably better than all the rest, but the rationale gets flipped on its head when defense of Latin becomes its own proxy for doctrinal orthodoxy.

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Of shorts and men

Todd Aglialoro's piece in Crisis on "The New Catholic Manliness" has been met with many head nods from all about St. Blogs. So why are Catholic men so consistently and abundantly wearing shorts to Mass? Nothing represents the suburbanization heresy, and its invariable devolution into consumerist effeminacy, more than men in shorts at Mass. Today at the noon choir Mass at the Shrine, by my sampling at least 1/3 of the men decided that their Sunday best included showing off their legs. Of course, the declension rule for intergenerational Mass dress thereby gives their sons license to dress like slobs. Some fifty-something chump had it in him to ascend the altar steps and present the offertory gifts in those ubiquitous khaki shorts and white sneakers for our viewing pleasure. I wanted to take the offering basket-on-a-stick to his bare backthighs.

But wait, how superficial of me. Jesus doesn't care about how we dress but how we love our neighbor.... But that's not really the issue, is it? The issue is what kind of man would willingly be caught dead sporting preppie shorts in a sanctuary of the Catholic Church.

That we need our bishops to formally prohibit what is patently offensive dress at Mass is yet another sign of the impotence of our post-V2 catechesis against the culture of adolescence in the Western church. What, do we need another motu proprio?